Gift Phiri 8 February 2017
HARARE – An election watchdog has sought permission from Finance minister
Patrick Chinamasa to petition Parliament on the “meagre” budget allocation
to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) for preparations for the crunch
2018 general elections.
Section 187 (5) of the Standing Rules and Orders of the Parliament require
that petitioners on Money Bills seek authority from the Vice President or
Finance minister for permission to proceed. Money Bills solely concern
taxation or government spending.
In a letter to Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa seen by the Daily News,
the Election Resource Centre (ERC) said his $9,7 million vote to the Zec
The poll watchdog said they looked forward to a favourable response to the
application to petition the august house at Chinamasa’s earliest
Chinamasa was yet to respond to the petition, and efforts to reach him for
comment yesterday were futile.
As expected, the budget stuck by the government’s pledge to live within
its means, offering little in the way of poll preparations – including
nationwide voter registration process and related election administration
exercises – despite the looming 2018 election.
This year’s spending plan had an unusually high degree of difficulty as it
effectively doubles as the launch of an unofficial election campaign as
the country hurtles towards the key local government, parliamentary and
“Considering the work that Zec is constitutionally expected to administer,
it is our view that the resources availed so far are not adequate for the
electoral management body to conduct credible electoral processes,”
Tawanda Chimhini, the ERC executive director said in the letter to
Chinamasa, that was also copied to Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, the two Vice Presidents Mnangagwa and
Phelekezela Mphoko, the Clerk of Parliament, the parliamentary portfolio
committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, the chief whips of
Zanu PF, mainstream MDC and the smaller MDC.
“Clearly, the budget presented to Zec is not adequate to support the
election roadmap which was recently announced by the commission
chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau.
“Without adequate support, delivery of such key electoral processes like
the impending biometric voter registration, voter education and subsequent
polling is likely to compromise quality and set the ground for undesirable
ERC said elections were a process not an event and therefore require
sufficient preparations and funding.
Section 155 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe obligates the state to take
all appropriate measures including legislative measures to ensure
peaceful, free and fair elections.
The $9,7 million allocated to Zec falls far short of the $59,2 million
requested by Zec.
Chimhini said Zec set a roadmap for the 2018 elections which requires
maximum support from the treasury.
“Essentially, funding for 2018 elections should be budgeted for in 2017.
This is consistent with regional best practice and avoids challenges such
as those faced in 2013.
“In that light, the ERC seeks to petition the Parliament . . . to further
debate this allocation and advise the executive to reconsider its position
on the Zec budget.”